A Malaysian satellite has died in space and will meet a fiery doom

After a mysterious "anomaly", a Malaysian satellite will soon be lost to space and will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
On June 21, the nearly 15-year-old Measat-3 communications space satellite lost service to its customers due to an unspecified issue. According to company updates, it was returned to ground control on June 24, but has not been operational since.

Measat announced Aug. 6 that it would proceed with a deorbit, despite the satellite being dead and an ongoing investigation by satellite maker Boeing into its "root cause".

"Further testing, recovery efforts and further testing revealed that the satellite was unable to re-enter service. "The satellite will be de-orbited over the next weeks," Measat stated in an update. It has not yet revealed the exact date it will burn up Measat-3.

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Measat-3 was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on December 11, 2006. This is the same launch facility where Soyuz spacecraft regularly send crews to orbit. More than 100 countries are served by the spacecraft, including those in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa. According to local news reports, Astro satellite TV operator was one of the affected customers.

Although most customers were transferred to backup satellites by mid July, the satellite was still tumbling in orbit since at least July 1, according ExoAnalytic Solutions. ExoAnalytic Solutions executive vice-president of engineering Bill Therien told SpaceNews July 17 that it was rare for one to return from this stage.

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ExoAnalytic also noted that there was no debris surrounding Measat-3, which could have hinted at an in space collision that might have caused the service issue. ExoAnalytic also stated that there is no risk of the satellite colliding with another space object in the near future. SpaceNews reported on Aug. 11 that the satellite might have ran out of fuel in its geosynchronous orbit earlier than anticipated.

Measat announced Aug. 6 that it was preparing a new satellite, Measat-3D. It is being built by Airbus Defence and Space "for early 2022."

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